Digital content is becoming more and more popular because it’s convenient and easily fairly easy to access online. You can go to sites and buy movies to watch them, but you’re restricted most times to just your computer and maybe another device and usually no real physical media in your hands. I’m old school, I like to have a physical product in my hands, not only to make me feel secure about my purchase but it just feels good to have something tangible to show for what you bought.
Today I’ve got sort of a combo review for you, it’s of the new Roxio Venue service and the specialized DVD burner that accompanies it. Roxio Venue is an online store where you can purchase movies, but what makes Venue different is that you not only have the digital version of the movie to watch but you can burn it to DVD to watch in a standard DVD player. In other words your digital media purchase is now a tangible thing that you can feel, touch and even take with you to share with friends or family. These are what is normally called Burn-to-DVD-Downloads. In order to do this though you’ve got to have a special Qflix enabled DVD burner and special Qflix blank DVDs as well as they’re essentially a form of DRM. Normally I’m against DRM, but this type works for me as it offers me something tangible that I can touch and actually see a physical manifestation of my purchase, unlike something that remains on my computer in digital form.
Roxio was kind enough to set me up with an account to give you a walk through of how it works and of course provided me with a Qflix enabled burner and discs to go with it.
First up we’ll take a look at the actual hardware involved, yes no unboxing video today, as we’re more focused on the actual service as opposed to the hardware. Roxio sent me a Dell branded Qflix enabled DVD/RW drive as Dell is one of the first companies that does sell them. I believe the standard pack only comes with two pieces of media, they were kind enough to include a couple more for me for this review.
Of course I popped the external drive apart because I wanted to know what kind of drive it was and I found out it is actually an SATA DVD/RW drive, model DX-20A6Q from Philips & LiteOn Digital Solutions. I found it a bit interesting that they went from SATA to USB with the enclosure. The bundle retails for about $120 on the Dell website.
* Provides the ability to legally download and burn DVDs of movies and top TV hits for playback on standard and high-definition DVD players
* Supports standard DVD functions (16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW with double layer write capable)
* Includes Roxio Venue software to connect directly to select content providers for easy purchase and download, organization, and burning of movies to DVD
* Includes Qflix DVD media from Ritek
With a Qflix DVD drive, creating your own personal movie library is simple. From your desktop, use Roxio Venue™ — a rich, user-friendly application — to connect directly to CinemaNow for easy purchase and download, organization, and burning of your favorite hit movies and TV shows to DVD. Select your favorites and then simply insert Qflix DVD media into the Qflix drive, click to burn and create your own personal entertainment library. Now you have the freedom to watch your movie on your TV, in your home theater, in your car or on your laptop.
In addition, Qflix drives are multi-function (16x DVD-ROM Drive + 16x DVD+/-RW with double layer write capable). We recommend Roxio Easy Media Creator to extend your Qflix drive to burn photos, audio and personal video. With a single Qflix drive, you have a complete entertainment PC.
This device can record on discs marked with the Qflix logo. Such recorded discs are intended for playback in DVD-Video play-only devices and may not play in other DVD devices including recorders and PC drives that are not marked with the Qflix logo.
First up you’ll need to install the Roxio Venue software and register, easy to do nothing to it, takes a couple minutes.
You’ll then have a Roxio Venue shortcut and a CinemaNow Manger shortcut on your desktop, but we’re more concerned with the Roxio Venue. Clicking it open up your browser of choice to the CinemaNow Qflix Download to DVD site where you’ll have to create an account to get started, once I did that an update to the Roxio Venue software was needed so I let that do it’s thing.
Once the update was installed I was ready to go and start using the service. The movies are categorized by Comedy, Action, Drama, Family and Thriller, which turn out to be very general categories and you’ll find many movies crossing the categories.
Of course each movie give you information about it like Synopsis, Director, Actors etc. You’ll also find the price as well listed, and from what I saw all of the movies were $9.99 each which isn’t bad for a new movie. You’ll also find several icon under the Buy Now section that let you know what you can do with the movie, for example below we see Iron Man can plays on up to three devices and be burned to DVD, and this is all included in the $9.99 cost, so I think that really makes the cost worthwhile right there.
So I’ve got children and they’ve become Speed racer fans, I reviewed the game not long ago here on technogog so I figured I would grab the movie for them from Roxio Venue. After you click the Buy Now button you are in your cart where you can checkout or continue browsing. I checked out of course and you have a choice to pay with Credit Card, PayPal or a Gift Certificate, Roxio was kind enough to give me a $25 Gift Certificate to use with Venue so that’s the form of payment I used. You’ll also get a confirmation receipt in your email as well.
After you’ve paid you’ll move to the Confirmation and Download screen where you’ll see a button that says Start Download, under that is a check box to automatically begin burning to DVD.
After that you’ll be greeted with the progress screen so you can watch the progress of your download. You also have the choice of watching the movie as it downloads, so you don’t have to download the entire movie to watch it, just a bit needs to get ‘buffered’ in your computer so you can start watching.
Earlier I mentioned the CinemaNow Manager, through it you can also monitor your movie and watch it while it downloads. Personally I liked using the Venue better as I ran into a bug, and well I just like the browser based version a bit more really.
The Entire process took about 3 hours or so on my DSL connection, and what’s nice is you can walk away and come back later and the DVD can be burned automatically for you so you don’t even have to be there while it works.
Overall I found the Roxio Venue/Qflix Download to DVD easy to use and navigate, but I found the selection a bit lacking. I also noticed that title disappear with no warning also, I was going to grab Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black to add to my collection but they were gone the next time I logged in to get them. I think maybe there should be a time limit or something listed like ‘this title will be available for X numbers of days’, unless I missed it somewhere I didn’t see anything like that.
As far as the DVD burner itself, it’s your basic burner with the Qflix technology added, it can still function as a normal burner as well.
Though for Qflix movies you will need Qflix discs and only those will work, which will run you about $10 for 5 discs in jewel cases, or about $2 each. I’m sure as with anything the prices will come down eventually, so far I believe that only Ritek and Verbatim are making Qflix discs.
So a little bit ago I reviewed the LiteOn Ez-Dub External DVD drive and I figured it might be a good idea to compare them together to see how they perform with CDs and DVDs. I used Nero CD-DVD benchmark program, first I created the CD/DVD using the program then I ran the Benchmark part of it.
Average Speed is higher is better, while Random Access, Average Speed Creation and Time to Create are lower is better
First up we’ve got the DVD test, 16X DVDs were used for testing:
As you can see they are fairly comparable drives in terms of performance, the Random Access looks a bit skewed towards the LiteOn but you have to remember it’s measured in Milliseconds. We can see though the overall time to create a full 4.38GB DVD is 5:38 for the Qflix drive while the LiteOn has a time of 5:50, a good 12 seconds behind the Qflix drive.
Next we have the CD Test, same scoring results as the DVD test, 52X CDs were used for the testing.
Here we see it takes about 6 seconds longer to create a CD with the Qflix burner, and everything else is a about the same.
Overall the drives are very comparable, in real life you wouldn’t notice much of a difference really unless you are in that much of a hurry where 12 seconds matters to you.
Personally I like this system as opposed to others where the content is not tangible, the Qflix/Roxio Venue system works very well together to offer new movie downloads at low cost with the ability to burn them to DVD to play virtually anywhere.
Sure you’ve got to buy special discs, but consider it a convenience fee, it doesn’t bother me at all to have the ability to buy, download and own a movie to have in my hand.
Watch while you’re downloading
Automatically burns for you
Easy to use
Can be left unattended
Inexpensive, $10 for a new movie isn’t too bad
Ability to share with other devices
Physical media in your hands
Movies disappear with no warning
Small selection of movies now
Requires special hardware
Requires special discs